Benoit Casseau, Marco Camurri and David Wisth visited Zurich for a meeting of the European project THING (subTerranean Haptic INvestiGator). In a nutshell this project aims to develop new feet for the ANYmal robot to enhance mobility and to perceive the terrain properties. In comparison to the current feet, the new ones have sensors that can provide information on the friction coefficient of the terrain and its geometry. They are flexible so it means that their shape can adapt to the shape of the terrain, thus the surface of contact between the new feet and the ground is bigger than with the normal feet so it should lead to less slippage. With this new feature the Anymal should be able to move in hazardous, slippery, rocky and wet environment.
The new feet, designed by the University of Pisa, were tested for the first time during this meeting which was also an opportunity for all the members of the project to give an update of their current research.
They spent a day in a sewer making the robot walk and trot in a slippery environment and also performed a 3D mapping of the sewer. The data collected will be used to detect and predict feet slippage.
The final objective of the project is to demonstrate the new feet in a sewer in Zurich and in a copper mine in Poland.
The next meeting of the THING project will be in March 2019 in Poland.